When purchasing a condominium, or condo, it is important to remember that it is similar to moving into an apartment, but it is also very different. Condominium projects are governed by condominium associations, a type of community association. Simply put, a condominium association is a legal organization of homeowners in a condominium project who work together to maintain property values and the quality of the neighborhood.
In order to do this, the owners within the community elect from amongst themselves a board of directors to oversee the day to day business of the association and enforce the community’s CC&Rs. As these board members are volunteers who gain no compensation and managing a condo association can be a full time job, many boards will contract a professional management company to assist in these responsibilities. A property manager will work as a partner with the board, including to take on daily operations such as dues collection, contract negotiation, and maintenance coordination before bringing contracts and quotes before the board for their final approval. This division of work allows a condo association to run efficiently and successfully.
Membership to the association is mandatory, a condition of the purchase of a unit in the development. With this membership, homeowners are required to abide by the community’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), and pay the dues established within them.
These dues go towards a wide variety of things in a condo association. The association is responsible for the maintenance and replacement of all general common elements, and in the case of condos, there are many. General common elements, which are used by every unit owner, include sidewalks, elevators, roofs, lobbies and common hallways, and community amenities like pools. They may also be responsible for some limited common elements, or elements for the use of one or more but less than all owners, which are listed in the CC&Rs. Collected dues also cover legal, accounting, landscaping, insurance, and management fees.
Unit owners are responsible for their unit, as defined in the CC&Rs. In most cases a unit is defined as the exterior surface of the drywall in and the interior of the concrete slab upward, though this may vary from association to association and the CC&Rs should always be consulted. Anything contained within these boundaries is to be maintained by the owner and most associations require it to be fully insured.
When run appropriately, a condominium association can flourish and provide a wonderful environment in which to live.